In the Blog

American Apparel uncovered

October 16th, 2006     by Nicole Cohen     Comments

Ive always been skeptical of American Apparel, the L.A.-based chain that sells plain clothes that claim to be sweatshop free, marketed to hipsters through often creepy, sexed-up photos of supposed real people, sold in stores that claim to be community galleries.

Before opening actual stores, AA sold blank T-shirts in bulk to bands who, concerned about selling merch made in sweatshops, could print their logo/image/photos on them to sell at shows. When stores proper started opening, a big deal was made about the companys political mandate: cool (overpriced) clothes with a conscious. However, it quickly became apparent that the politics of AAs notorious, obnoxious owner, Dov Charney, were disingenuous.

While its true that AAs clothes are manufactured in downtown L.A., where employees earn about $12 an hour on average (as opposed to most of the U.S.s clothing, which is manufactured in countries where labour can be exploited for much lower wages), AA is hostile to employees organizing for job security and against the speed of work and layoffs. When employees tried to form a union, the company unleashed an intimidation campaign that mirrored the aggressive union-busting techniques of other major manufacturers (this may not be surprising considering that Charney got his first real job when he crossed a picket line to work during a postal workers strike.)

And then there are Charneys sexist antics, which have been widely reported. This includes the companys exclusive hiring practices in its stores, Charney masturbating in front of a reporter interviewing him for Jane magazine, and three sexual harassment suits filed against him by former female employees.

Theres more, and some of these issues and contradictions about AA are covered in a great spread in Clamor magazine.

Tags: body politics, miscellaneous

« The status of status

Shop ‘til you drop »